The main issue in this case study is substance abuse among students within the Western Valley High School. It is believed that this issue has increased both the expulsion and drop-out rates with in the high school. In addition, the issue is further complicated by the internal conflict that exists between two schools of thought regarding the most effective way of dealing with the issue. One school of thought views the issue as a “criminal” matter, in which a zero-tolerance policy should remain in place. The other views the issue as one of a physical, emotional, psychological nature, to be dealt with through counseling.
Current State: Substance abuse at Western Valley High School has contributed to high levels of expulsion and drop-out rates. However Dr. Tatum lacks the data directly linking substance abuse issues found at Western Valley High School and there contribution to explosion and drop-out rates. This inhibits the development of a clear current state.Desired State: The desired state involves the reduction of expulsion and drop-out rates. This is to be done through Dr. Tatum’s belief that the issue of substance abuse is one of a physical, emotional, psychological nature, requiring counseling to effectively manage the issue. Dr. Tatum would further like to identify more effective ways to deal with student discipline and increase school effectiveness by elevating student achievement test scores. Lack of obvious way to eliminate gap: Do to the conflict between which methodology is best suited to deal with the issue of substance abuse, a gap between the current state and the desired state exists. Dr. Tatum’s belief that the issue should be dealt with through counseling is meet with resistance by administration, faculty and parents, who view the issue as a criminal matter. This lack of support further inhibits resolution of the issue.Level of Knowledge: Due to the lack of data that specifically links substance abuse and its association to expulsion and drop-out rates at Western Valley High School, the current state is poorly developed. However, Dr. Tatum has set forth three goals that she would like to see result as substance abuse is reduced at Western Valley High School. The lack of a defined current state and well –defined goal(s), places Dr. Tatum within the second level of knowledge regarding the issue of substance abuse and its effective management at Western Valley High School.
There are several issues that are relevant to how things have played out for Dr. Tatum. First of all, we are not so sure that Dr. Tatum should have been appointed as a high school principle at such an infancy stage of her administrative career. Also Dr. Tatum’s approach of treating every drug situation on a case by case basis may bring forth anxiety between the other administrators in her building. Her assistant principals may have a lot of trepidation when making decisions, being that there was no uniformity in a drug policy. Lastly Dr. Tatum’s policy states that all first time offenders should only have to have in school suspension. It seems as if her policy is too lenient for the caliber of school she heads. Also Dr. Tatum seemed to have celebrated her victories a bit too early exclaiming that a total of 17 students had been placed in school suspension program and there were only 7 drug offenses. A lot of times children have a honeymoon phase with teachers and administrators, and she has just experienced one.
The principal is trying to make the suspension and expulsion rates look good within the school district to show that she is doing a good job, and this is all well, but the community is expressing a deeper concern. When parents send their children to school, they want to be certain that they do not need to worry about their safety. This involves having access to drugs. If a person is using drugs, attending in-school suspension is not going to keep them from bringing drugs to school. The principal is faced with the hardship of figuring out what the best solution is. It doesn’t seem like in-school suspension matches the discipline infraction. That seems like where someone should go for a minor fight or misbehavior in class. Possessing marijuana is a crime that is punishable by law and should be treated like one. Some possible solutions that Dr. Tatum could adhere to are reverting back to the practices of the former principal. Adhering to a policy based on the school district policy manual. Reconvening the original committee to come up with alternative plans to ensure adequate disciplinary measures and school safety.
The assistant principals are familiar with the school and their policies. An ethical ramification within that is whether it is fair or right to pick only one of the three assistant principals to become the principal.(Does it say that any of the assistant principals applied for the principal job?). Only one of the assistant principals made it clear that he did not approve of the in-school suspension program.
Coercive Leadership has been applied in this situation and has left Dr. Tatum trying to convince others to go with her discipline policy even though they do not believe in it. Trying to deal with the crisis of substance abuse in this school, the coercive leadership style may have been a good style to use in theory, but unfortunately it was not applied well. Instead of uses the iron fist mentality to expect a Zero Tolerance policy, the emotional intelligence of this administrator kicked in and did not work out in her favor. As Fullan stated, It is NOT enough to have the best ideas…sometimes you can have the best ideas without anyone who will buy into them! Unfortunately if thing continues on this path than she will probably face the probability of not being asked to come back the following year.
1. By Steven Polka, Talonda Thomas, and Marck AbrahamEDA600 – OnlineDr. John ThompsonTheory of School AdministrationCanisius College
2. Substance Abuse at Western Valley High School How to Effectively Discipline Substance abuse
3. Current State Desired State Lack of an obvious way to eliminate the gap between “current state” and “desired state” Level of Knowledge
4. Dr. Tatum being appointed to high school principal without adequate experience There is a lack of uniformity on drug policies in the school. Each drug infraction is handled case by case as opposed to being disciplined by a set of rules.
5. Reverting back to the practices of the former principal Adhering to a policy based on the school district policy manual Reconvening the original committee to come up with alternative plans to ensure adequate disciplinary measures and school safety
6. The superintendent appointed a young and inexperienced principal instead of appointing one of the assistant principals. The principal changed the disciplinary plan right before school started, however she got approval from the school board. The principal is being pressured from the community that her new disciplinary plans are not working, and are in fact making the substance abuse problem at the school worse. The faculty and staff have not supported the new principal in her efforts of finding more effective ways to deal with student discipline and to reduce the schools dropout rate.
7. Coercive Leadership has been applied in thissituation and has left Dr. Tatum trying toconvince others to go with her disciplinepolicy even though they do not believe in it.Trying to deal with the crisis of substanceabuse in this school, the coercive leadership
8. Fullan, M. (2007). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Kowalski, T. J. (2012). Case Studies on Educational Administration. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.